22nd Oct2019

‘Investigation 13′ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Meg Foster, Stephanie Hernandez, Patrick Flanagan, Robert Paget, William Alexander, Giordan Diaz, Jesse Ramos, Peter Aratari | Written by Rolando Vinas, Krisstian de Lara | Directed by Krisstian de Lara

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With a screenplay penned by Clay Smith and re-written by Rolando Vinas and Krisstian de Lara, the latter of whom directs, Investigation 13 is the story of a group of science students who have found out how to explain paranormal activity through scientific means. They aim to show their findings to a school-board and hope to launch a parapsychology course. The thirteenth investigation takes them to Black Grove Psychiatric Asylum a place where the urban legend of “The Mole Man” exists, an ex-patient of the asylum who many think still resides within the place.

The story sounded interesting enough, and I think there are times when an asylum can be a perfect location for a horror movie. I mean, Session 9 is one of the best paranormal horror films of the 2000s. I was intrigued, and with the casting of Meg Foster (They Live, Masters of the Universe), an actress we don’t see a great deal of these days, I was ready to see what this was all about.

Now, there are some very familiar elements and horror tropes in play here, and I felt as Investigation 13 went on like I knew where it was going. Everything kind of felt “done before”, with no real attempt to create something especially unique or unfamiliar. That was an immediate problem, but it wasn’t enough to take me away from giving it a shot. The idea of a paranormal research team in a creepy place isn’t new, but neither is the way they shoot the film, or the subsequent “reveals” as the plot opens up. I was interested to see Meg Foster, but sadly she wasn’t in the movie all that much. Still, she was the best part of the film, a strong presence when she appeared on screen. The rest of the actors, while not all dire, weren’t all that good either. It felt, often, like the dialogue spoken was being read from a page right in front of them, nothing really feeling like actual conversation, no sense of real dread or fear coming out of the performances. There was plenty of screaming, sure, but with horror films there needs to be more than that for me to really invest.

The attempt at atmosphere is here with elements of movies like Grave Encounters coming to mind, but they don’t really hit the nail on the head. It falls flat way too often, with the writing lacking and the concept not really living up to itself. The idea of this killer, of this creepy Mole Man character, doesn’t take-off as much as it could have, and being chilled to the bones wasn’t something I ever felt while watching this, and it’s a shame. The injection of animation to tell part of the story felt jarring and while it’s certainly a gimmick that the movie can rely on to attempt to sell itself, it didn’t work for me. It felt forced, cheap and pointless, not adding anything, but instead taking away from any kind of dark tone that could have existed. If the animation had perhaps been done differently, darker and with a more creepy edge to it, then maybe, just maybe, it could have been more useful.

Poor performances, aside from Foster, cinematography that is clean but tepid, and ideas that just don’t work in this format, Investigation 13 should have been taken back to the lab and worked on some more. Maybe Investigation 14 would have been better? This just wasn’t good, and in the end I felt like I’d been put through my paces, really forced to sit through something that didn’t really hit on any of its intentions. An ending that felt like holding in a sneeze, this was sadly a disappointing experience. An investigation that I sadly feel was a failed one. Some paranormal horror fans might find something to dig about it, but this wasn’t for me.

* 1/5

Investigation 13 is out now VOD and DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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